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Your Postmaster: Spotlight PA Staff
July 29, 2022
Abortion lawsuit, ballot review, discarded votes, unexplained explosion, clinic closures, PNC Park poll, and a backyard flower boom. Friday is here.
BALLOT BLOCK

Gov. Tom Wolf is suing the Republican-controlled legislature in an effort to block a package of proposed constitutional amendments from reaching Pennsylvania voters

Among the changes is one that would declare that the state constitution does not provide any rights related to abortion, including taxpayer-funding of the procedure.

Wolf, in a lawsuit announced Thursday, said legislative Republicans rammed through the proposed amendments with little debate as they were wrapping up work on the overdue state budget in early July.

The Democratic governor has gone directly to the state Supreme Court for relief, arguing that GOP lawmakers unconstitutionally lumped together disparate pieces of their “failed” agenda.

A spokesperson for state House Republicans said the suit is "meritless."

THE CONTEXT: The legislature must approve proposed amendments to the state constitution in two consecutive two-year sessions before they appear on the ballot. Then, voters make the final decision.

The five proposals Wolf is challenging would have to be approved again in the legislature’s next session, which begins in January. Voters could be asked to decide as early as the May 2023 election.

Legislative Republicans have increasingly turned to the constitutional amendment process to avoid Wolf's veto pen

Use Spotlight PA's amendment tracker to stay informed about proposed changes to Pennsylvania’s Constitution.

NOTABLE / QUOTABLE

"We're basically gardeners gone wild."

—Kristin Smock, owner of a backyard flower farm, on the local flower boom sprouting up in Crawford, Erie, and Warren Counties
 
📷 POST IT
From Doug W. in Monroeville: "Young fawn last night decided the compost pile of leaves and grass on the bank at the back of our yard made a great resting place." Send us your photos and art, use #PAGems on IG, or tag @spotlightpennsylvania.
DAILY RUNDOWN
BALLOT AUDIT: Butler County officials have begun an audit of ballots from the 2020 election that they say is a test run for future reviews. The Republican chair of the county's board of commissioners says the move is purely for information-gathering, but another commissioner, a Democrat, acknowledged the review could be seen as a response to false claims of widespread voter fraud — an issue still resonating this year.

STILL WAITING: Months after an explosion blew apart a duplex in Pottstown and killed five people, debris and rubble remain unmoved and residents say local and state officials have been tightlipped about their investigation. The Morning Call reports the Public Utility Commission declined to answer in detail questions about the explosion, which might have involved a natural gas pipeline.

DISCARDED VOTES: A lawsuit over hundreds of primary mail ballots that were discarded because of missing dates began yesterday in Commonwealth Court, the AP reports. The suit, filed by the Pennsylvania Department of State against the Republican-controlled election boards of Berks, Fayette, and Lancaster Counties, is one of several lawsuits over mail voting in Pennsylvania.

HOSPITAL CLOSURE: North-central Pennsylvania's Berwick Hospital Center is set to close before the end of the year, per WNEP. The closure, confirmed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, follows three nearby clinics going dark last week and the owners of the facilities, who also own the hospital, filing for bankruptcy protection. Doctors affected by the closures affirmed they will remain in the area.

SOLAR FIELD: Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection has approved one of the final two permits needed for what would be the state's largest solar field, WFMZ reports. The proposal, if it receives the second permit, would include hundreds of thousands of solar panels spread over nearly 500 acres.
IN OTHER NEWS
DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT: The family of two Black children apparently snubbed by a costumed character at Sesame Place outside of Philadelphia is suing for racial discrimination, per the AP.

WE'RE NO 2: PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, is the second-highest rated sports stadium in the country, a review of ratings from sites like Yelp shows. With views like this? Hard agree.

BANNED BOOKS: As Central Bucks School District votes to keep “sexualized content” out of school libraries, The Inquirer revisits PEN America's list of the most commonly banned books in the state

NEW FOOTAGE: A trailer for Amazon Prime's A League of Their Own adaption — filmed in Western Pennsylvania — dropped this week. The project also features Carnegie Mellon University graduate Chanté Adams.

SUB-WAY SYSTEM: SEPTA's newest Regional Rail station will be called — what else? — the Wawa Station, 6ABC reports. A ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled for August. No word on whether there will be free hoagies. 
THE SCRAMBLER
Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag.
 
E C C S Y A E R P B

*This week's theme: The internet

Yesterday's answer: Emoticon

Congrats to our daily winners: Lynne E., Craig W., John P., Chuck M., Susan N.-Z., Jessica K., Becky C., Elaine C., Barbara F., Susan D., Don H., Stephen G., Mike B., Wendy A., George S., Jim A., Doris T., Dianne K., John H., Bill S., Kim C., Alissa H., David W., Larry L., Suzanne S., Sharon P., Vicki U., Warren D., Steve H., Kimberly D., and James B.
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